‘Tis the Season for… Stormwater??
This is part of a series of columns prepared by the staff at the award winning West Seattle Nursery. The Nursery is open for shopping, following COVID guidelines and they offer an array of trees, shrubs, bedding plants, garden supplies, decor and gift items. They are located at 5275 California Ave SW and you can find them online at https://www.westseattlenursery.com
June is usually the beginning of our “dry” season. But with record rainfall and cool temperatures throughout spring and now into June, our gardens are anything but dry. The greater concern now is what happens when all that stormwater leaves your property.
Seattle is one of many cities that combines a lot of its stormwater with the sanitary sewer system. While this seems like a simple way to carry excess stormwater away and prevent the possibility of flooded yards or basements, there is a big problem with this system.
When we have heavy rains, the sewage treatment plants are overwhelmed. To keep wastewater from backing up into people’s homes and businesses, the plants release large quantities of raw sewage into Puget Sound to relieve the pressure. This poses a threat to marine life, including salmon and our beloved Orcas.
We also have storm drains that are separate from the sanitary sewer and that dump directly into the nearest body of water. As stormwater washes across lawns, gardens, and streets, on its way to those storm drains, it picks up pollutants. They include pesticides, motor oil, herbicides, fertilizers, heavy metals, animal feces, and bits of trash. They go directly into the water, poisoning fish and wildlife, and damaging our marine ecosystems. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, stormwater runoff accounts for 30% of the pollutants in our waterways.
In this video below, West Seattle scuba diver, Laura James, shows us what it looks like when a plume of stormwater is discharged after a heavy rain. The video also follows researchers studying the difference rain gardens can make to filter out pollutants. They compare the survival rates of fish in filtered stormwater and those in a container filled with stormwater runoff. It is dramatic!
The best policy is to keep water from running off or being piped away from your yard in the first place. King County has more reasons why that is important and recommends 10 things you can do to prevent stormwater runoff pollution. https://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/water-and-land/stormwater/i…